A Good Leader enthrals every nook of the industry with performance and ability. From aviation to railways, engineering to medicine, civil services to politics, women leaders have contributed efficiently for good management and advocacy. Companies in the technology cubicle require fast and promising leadership to generate maximum governance with minimum resources. Rajita D’Souza, President, Human Resources and Corporate Social Responsibility, STMicroelectronics is such a personality in the C-Suite with an enormous legacy of knowledge and sincerity. With an experience of more than 20 years in HR, she is a perfect example of how eminent leaders should be in terms of discipline and assertiveness. Speaking with our correspondent, Mannu Mathew on her vision and mission, she opened her prospects and plans in the years to come with STMicroelectronics.
Excerpts of this Exclusive Conversation:
ELE Times: With your immense wisdom in human Resource and corporate relations, how do you look forward to achieving fruitful results in your niche?
Rajita: Fundamentally, I believe that the HR & people strategy must align with the business strategy. The approach I will follow will be to work closely with my colleagues to understand our expectations for the next 3-5 years and understand what capabilities, processes, and investments we need to focus on in talent development.
Based on that, we will build programs and create opportunities to develop our people, teach and coach our people on the technologies in this new digital world that we need to embrace. We also need to recruit people with the best technical and leadership capabilities we can find from everywhere in the world to help ST grow our portfolio and achieve our strategic goals.
Particularly in this Covid-19 environment, organizations are compelled to become leaner and more nimble in their processes for operational efficiency and ST has continued to put as a priority employee engagement, which requires the collaboration of cross-functional internal stakeholders. I see a natural synergy between Human Resources and Corporate Relations that would significantly strengthen the value-add for ST.
ST operates across most of the world’s continents and we manage a global workforce with different cultures, different languages and different employment laws and regulations. To ensure success in the global arena, we must respect the varied cultures and workforce environments and our business strategy must be linked to the human capital strategy to design the right solutions to deliver business success.
Also, organizations around the globe are looking for a new type of leader – one who has both a strong technology-infused capability and is largely grounded in using a human touch. They need this to manage dynamic and diverse teams in continuous learning and development and in taking accountability for their work and career. Managers must be coaches and not just problem solvers. We need to inculcate in our employees the importance of accountability. We want to build leaders with a heart. So really, my priority at ST is in helping make the company even more engaged and empowering to its employees.
And real empowerment is something that our CEO has been talking about, which means giving people the power and autonomy to make smart decisions to boost their productivity and motivation.
ELE Times: The recruitment and hiring process today is witnessing rapid changes in terms of criterion as well as technical adaptations. What is your work mechanism for ST India?
Rajita: The digital world is gradually reshaping the HR function. This change is encompassing all elements of Talent Management as well as redefining Operational aspects of HR. With the rapid pace of technological evolution, there have been co-related radical changes in hiring which have created previously unimagined possibilities compared to just a decade ago. It is important to note, that though the fundamentals haven’t changed much, the dynamics have been irreversibly impacted by Automation. In the case of hiring, talent search has become more focused, skilful, efficient, and more creative than ever before, such as with various social media platforms becoming part of the process for most companies, as it serves the dual purpose of branding and seeking talent, especially from the cohort of tech-savvy millennial.
The investments in digital platforms continue unabated, with organizations building their capabilities and aligning business models to digital practices. With an increased focus on digitalization – and further accelerated by Covid-19 — the usage of social media for hiring has truly taken centre stage. There has also been a systematic breakdown of geographical barriers, as talented people in non-manufacturing positions can work from anywhere in the world.
At ST India, we have adapted with a swift focus and geometric increase in networking and references for Talent Acquisition through the digital medium. We’re also using skill-specific seeking from ‘passive candidates’ and reaching out to many qualified ex-colleagues who may be interested in re-joining ST. We also are creating and using publishing channels to post articles emphasizing our technical prowess, to stimulate the interest of those active seekers looking for a challenging leading-edge technical career. The key element is that one gets real-time data on how many potential candidates, and from which organizations, are showing interest in us.
As a high-tech employer, online testing/interviewing has also been key to our selection processes, and this has been further enhanced with the latest technologies. These have added high levels of interactivity, including the ability for interviewers and interviewees to have real-time sharing of complex technical queries and solutions, without necessarily physically meeting one another. This in turn has significantly reduced the turnaround time for the company in assessing the candidate, and for the candidate to know the outcome.
Also, ‘remote on boarding’ has become more prominent in 2020-21 than it’s ever been before, and at ST India, we are leveraging digital tools for onboarding to give offers, online documentation, team interaction etc., giving a more frictionless onboarding experience to the new hires so they can start doing the work that got them excited to join ST, in the first place. This is an element that millennial value, making them feel comfortable and cared for from the very beginning of the assimilation process. We are also using the digital platforms to get in touch with university students for our Internship programs, to have a Tech-ready workforce for ST as well as the wider Hi-Tech ecosystem.
I do believe that despite all the adaptations, the human element behind all automation and processes, is the ‘driver’ of any technology. Human interventions may have changed in terms of system enablement, but it is still key to how we strategize and therefore maximize the outcomes for the business.
ELE Times: Could you please put some light on Gender Diversity in India, Is the future more optimistic?
Rajita: Gender diversity will continue to be a priority, globally as well as in India, as companies implement diversity policies and take constructive actions to build inclusive cultures so that everyone feels that they belong and is treated fairly.
Women leaders in global Tech companies are making lots of news and will continue to make their presence felt in C-suite roles. It is very important and satisfying for a female leader to be considered for, and promoted into, roles for the capability and experience they bring to the table instead of for their gender. Most women leaders have collected enough stories about their sacrifices, addressing gender bias, balancing work/life, and the difficult competition at work.
Being a women leader in a Tech company in some ways is not different from being a woman leader in any other company. If there are differences, it may be in thought processes or in the way organizations approach things, and these are certainly not triggered by gender thinking. However, in Tech companies, the challenge is from the strategic side and less operational on a day-to-day basis i.e., strategically, being able to coach yourself, and groom and guide capabilities within the company to be very agile and quick and to take calculated risks, and to make sure we ride innovation to serve customers and put ST on the map for new products that we want to roll out.
Gender equality is already in place at ST and we will set further clear targets to drive it as well as putting in place lots of different initiatives to support it. This includes speeding up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs by, on one hand, going to schools to influence girls and young women to think about having a career in an industrial environment. And, on the other, directly addressing the challenges that most women have of trying to balance career and family, home, and other obligations. We (both the executive team at ST and Women Leaders) must create an environment that encourages and fosters open conversations on gender equality and the importance of cultivating diversity within organisations. We also need to teach and educate all peers to understand the differences in approach and thinking that women can have and how those peers can support, interact, and coach women in their teams.
I have had the pleasure of working with some fantastic women leaders in my career. We look at problems and challenges in a broad framework and tend to make our decisions not just on what the best strategy or action is but also think through what the impact of these decisions will have on all stakeholders.
ELE Times: How far do you think that COVID-19 is an opportunity for the Indian Market? How has it changed your work mechanism?
Rajita: Covid-19 has forced many of us into home working, changed the mix of what can be done in the office versus outside of the office, and transformed the way companies conduct their businesses, including in the Semiconductor industry. Tough to say how much of this will continue once COVID is under control.
We are living today in a largely technology-driven world where virtual connectivity has, to a large extent, replaced in-person and personal connectivity. There is an ever-present challenge of losing touch with your internal and external colleagues and associates. My mantra, even more, important in my HR capacity, has always been to engage often with colleagues.
At ST, we will always have to consider that a large percentage of our people work in a manufacturing environment and cannot work remotely. Hence, we have to proactively look at adjusting the way of working with more flexibility and agility in our engagement model. However, we still have to be very conscious to avoid creating “have’s” and “have nots” while ensuring a working balance to enable ST to strategize post-Covid-19 approaches that sustain the company’s growth.
As for India, the pandemic has accelerated India’s digital reset and propelled the use of contactless digital technology across the country. The use of digital technology has resulted in the decentralization of decision-making and bridging of communities with local governments across towns and cities.
ELE Times: Please comment on ST India, the aspiration it holds, changes we would witness and more.
Rajita: ST India is a strategic centre for ST. It is involved in leading-edge design and development activities as a result of the presence of high-level technical expertise. For more than 30 years, we have been very deeply and actively engaged in the domestic industrial ecosystem, serving the Indian Electronics and Semiconductor market with our latest products, solutions, and technology.
Our sprawling, beautiful Innovation Campus in Greater Noida provides a uniquely conducive environment to develop the latest technologies and solutions, enabling the engineering community to work as an integral part of our global teams on strategic projects. Already ST India has more than 700 granted patents in various technical domains demonstrating the richness of our talent in India.
Importantly, we have been well recognized by industry and business associations as an exemplary employer, bringing the latest and most innovative products and services to our customers, and being socially responsible through our various local initiatives. As we progress further, ST India will continue to expand in its capabilities and keep on playing a significant role in the growth of the company.